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Leverkusen, March 27, 2018 – The new winners of the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award have been announced. The prizes, each worth EUR 10,000, have been awarded by an independent scientific committee of the Bayer Science & Education Foundation. The Bayer foundation presents for the sevens time the international Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award to excellent young scientists and physicians in the early stages of their academic and clinical research careers. The prizes will be awarded on June, 25th at the Bayer Foundation Day in Berlin.
“Research and science excellence play a central role for the life science company Bayer. I am delighted that these prizes give us the opportunity to support and motivate outstanding talents in Life Sciences and medicine,” said Kemal Malik, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG responsible for Innovation, and member of the Board of Directors of the foundation. “Bayer’s innovation strategy has a long-standing history for exchange and partnership with academia. The promotion of up-coming leaders in research is an important element in our program. This early dialogue opens strategic partnership opportunities and thus is a key to future success of applied innovation,” continued Malik.
This international talent award was first presented in 2009. It is awarded in the three categories biology, chemistry and medical science. The selection is made on the basis of the originality and quality of candidates’ research and the significance of this work for the respective award category.
Molecular mechanisms of ribosomal RNA synthesis revealed by structural studies
Ribosomes are the molecular factories that synthesize proteins in all living organisms. Assembling these factories requires a multitude of players, first and foremost the ribosomal RNAs. Synthesis of these RNAs is tightly regulated and a main determinant of cellular growth. For this purpose, a dedicated “polymerase” machinery, the RNA polymerase (Pol) I has evolved.
Using cutting-edge structural biology methods, Dr. Christoph Engel significantly contributed to understanding the molecular basis of ribosomal RNA transcription. He obtained his PhD working at the Gene Center of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich with Prof. Patrick Cramer. During this period, he solved the first 3D structure of the complete RNA polymerase I at atomic resolution using X-ray crystallography. Engel then continued to study the molecular basis of initiation and regulation of the Pol I transcription machinery at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. By employing recent advances in cryo-electron microscopy, he and his team were able to elucidate the structure of intermediate complexes and contributed to constructing the first comprehensive model of a complete Pol I transcription cycle. In addition, these studies may prove important for pharmaceutical research addressing cellular growth and differentiation depend on Pol I activity. Some of these studies will be pursued in Engel’s newly established research group at the University of Regensburg.
Molecular complexity through catalysis: selective functionalization of alkenes and alkynes
A catalyst can significantly accelerate the rate of a chemical reaction. The added value of catalysis in the chemical industry is of great importance, since more than 80 percent of all chemical products are produced by catalytic processes. By optimizing them, the energy and resource requirements can be decisively reduced.
Dr. Keary M. Engle graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the University of Michigan in 2007, where he carried out research with Prof. Adam J. Matzger. A Fulbright Scholar, he spent the follow year studying under the tutelage of Prof. Manfred T. Reetz at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Germany. As an NSF and NDSEG predoctoral fellow, Keary completed his graduate work jointly at The Scripps Research Institute with Prof. Jin-Quan Yu and the University of Oxford with Profs. Véronique Gouverneur and John M. Brown, earning a PhD in Chemistry and a DPhil in Biochemistry in 2013.
His graduate research focused on enhancing the rate of Pd(II)-catalyzed C–H activation. From 2013 to 2015, Keary was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. Robert H. Grubbs at Caltech, where his research elucidated an empirical model for rationalizing and predicting initiation rates of a commonly used class of olefin metathesis catalysts. Keary joined the faculty at The Scripps Research Institute as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in the summer of 2015. His independent lab seeks to invent a variety of selective catalytic reactions to functionalization carbon-carbon π-bonds to prepare valuable target motifs.
Understanding the neurobiology of recovery post-stroke
Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide, responsible for almost seven million deaths each year. Of those who survive a stroke, five million are left disabled every year. Stroke may result in severely restricted movement, paralysis, loss of speech or vision, which may be permanent.
Dr. Hayward is a clinician-neuroscientist who completed her Bachelor of Physiotherapy at James Cook University Townsville Australia, PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Queensland Brisbane Australia, and the first phase of her National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia Early Career Fellowship at the University of British Columbia Vancouver Canada. She is currently undertaking the second phase of her Early Career Fellowship at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health Melbourne Australia.
Hayward’s research to date has focused on upper limb rehabilitation as a model to understand the neurobiology of recovery post-stroke. Her work has demonstrated that current approaches to upper limb rehabilitation help patients recover a little bit of function, but do not enable patients to achieve large, clinically meaningful gains. Current approaches are likely limited because they are one-size-fits-all; offering too little rehabilitation too late in the recovery timeline. Hayward’s current work aims to leverage within human stroke trials the knowledge about neurobiology defined in preclinical models of stroke. Her clinical trials are designed to support development of new approaches that are focused on ‘right patient, time, intervention and dose’. Dr. Hayward’s work is aligned with the international vision of the Stroke Rehabilitation and Recovery Roundtable taskforce, of which she is a member.
The prize is awarded by the Bayer Science & Education Foundation. The primary objectives of the foundation are the recognition of outstanding research achievements, the promotion of talented scientists and support for important school science projects. In terms of content, the support and partnership activities focus on life sciences and medicine with impact on humanity’s grand health challenges and the nutrition crisis. The foundation honors outstanding research achievements every two years with the Otto Bayer Award and in alternate years with the Hansen Family Award, each of which carries a cash award of EUR 75,000. The program is rounded off by two prizes for up-and-coming researchers: The international Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award is presented annually in the categories biology, chemistry and medical science, each with prize money of EUR 10,000, while the Bayer Thrombosis Research Award, which supports scientists in the German-speaking region whose work focuses on basic and clinical research into thrombosis, is presented every two years and has prize money of EUR 30,000.
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2017, the Group employed around 99,800 people and had sales of EUR 35.0 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.4 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.5 billion. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.
This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.